When you hear of ‘health tech’ or ‘health innovation,’ the first places that come to mind are usually Silicon Valley, Boston or New York City. Yet, this past weekend’s event shook that notion for everyone that attended. It is not just big cities like SF, Boston or NYC that are experiencing a surge of innovation and entrepreneurship. In fact, even the smallest towns across the nation are taking technology and the power of internet to confront our nation’s growing health problems. CajunCodeFest, in Lafayette, Louisiana, is no exception.
An incredible crew of nearly 300 entrepreneurs, health experts, students, coders, and professionals gathered in Lafayette this weekend, representing 3 countries, 15 states, and 40 cities. With Louisiana having the second highest obesity rates (after Mississippi), the code-a-thon marked an important stepping stone for the state in its battle against obesity. As obesity rates continue to rise, the epidemic is now considered one of the nation’s biggest public health problems. The Louisiana Secretary of Health and Hospitals, Bruce Greenstein, put it loud and clear during his opening remarks, stating how “we have failed to take personal responsibility” for our obesity problems and we continue to blame others for this growing issue. That’s why the CajunCodeFest taking place in Lafayette was more important than ever.